copper

Marc Faber Doubts Fed Rate Hike In 2015, Buys Crude Oil Stocks

Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber was recently interviewed by Latha Venkatesh and Sonia Shenoy at CNBC-TV18 (India). The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report talked about a number of financial/investing topics- including a potential rate hike soon by the Federal Reserve. From a transcript of the discussion published on the Moneycontrol.com website on April 13:

Sonia: So, you are not expecting a rate hike from the US Fed this year?

A: What I said is in my view the Fed will not increase rates this year unless there is really a very sharp pick up in the economy or there is a colossal pot-hole developing in stocks. But otherwise I doubt it because the dollar has been strong. Okay, it may weaken somewhat, but I do not think it will collapse against the euro and against the yen and the British pound and so forth. So, the dollar is relatively strong. The economy in the US, the latest say, ten indicators that came out were all on the weak side. And under these conditions I doubt the Fed will increase rates. But that is an academic debate. What is important is I think the Feds and other Western Central Bankers will keep interest rates at a very low level for a very long time and will try to keep interest rates in real terms negative. In other words below the rates of cost of living increases.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dr. Faber shares the belief of fellow “crash prophet” Peter Schiff concerning an increase in the federal funds rate in the near future. However, Schiff has added that if the U.S. central bank does raise interest rates anytime soon, it will be miniscule.

Faber, who correctly forecast the rise of commodities, emerging markets, and China last decade, shares something else with a different “prophet.” From the transcript:

Latha: Yes, I note your exasperation. Therefore let me come to another asset class: commodities. Do you think they have bottomed or is it that there would be a long trough for this asset class?

A: We have to distinguish because the price of oil has very little to do with the price of orange juice or coffee. So each commodity has its own price dynamics driven by global production and global demand. Now industrial commodities have performed miserably along with emerging markets over the last couple of years because the demand was slowing down especially from China. So, you have prices of iron ore and steel and copper and oil that have collapsed. I happen to think that at this level a lot of commodities are reasonably priced, does not mean they will go up right away. But they come now into a buying rate and I have been buying some oil stocks recently.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last Sunday, I noted Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, who spotted the U.S. housing bubble last decade and the dot-com bubble a few years earlier, had purchased a crude oil ETF.

You can read the transcript of the entire exchange between Dr. Faber and CNBC-TV18 on Moneycontrol.com here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Goldman Sachs: About 20 Years’ Worth Of Known Mineable Gold Left

Leading global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm Goldman Sachs has put the spotlight back on gold and other prized commodities. Myra P. Saefong reported on the MarketWatch website this morning:

In another two decades, rare commodities may become seriously scarce.

According to Goldman Sachs, the world has about 20 years’ worth each of known minable reserves of gold, diamonds and zinc. Platinum, copper, nickel reserves only have about 40 years or less left.

“The combination of very low concentrations of metals in the Earth’s crust, and very few high-quality deposits, means some things are truly scarce,” Eugene King, European metals and mining analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a recent research note…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Could “peak gold” really have arrived? Regular observers of the precious metal shouldn’t be surprised to hear of its mention. Lawrence Williams reported on Mineweb.com (web-based international mining publication focusing on mining financial and corporate news and comment) back on March 25, 2013:

A new study from research and data provider IntierraRMG has pointed to a disturbing trend in terms of a decline in new global discoveries and in particular in gold grades. According to a study which covers announced gold deposit finds over the past 10 years, this decline has been accelerating over the past four years and if the trend continues, which seems likely as the easier-to-find deposits have perhaps mostly already been discovered, then the future of global mined gold supplies will gradually become affected. Indeed global production of mined gold has been plateauing and although running at or around its historic high levels, as the amount of new gold being found diminishes, then global production levels may not be sustainable beyond the next few years unless there is a dramatic turnaround in discoveries

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last fall, the chief executive of the world’s biggest gold miner (by market capitalization) was warning of “peak gold.” Alistair MacDonald reported on The Wall Street Journal website on September 8, 2014:

Miners have reached “peak gold,” in which production of the precious metal has hit its high as easy-to-mine gold deposits become harder to find, said Chuck Jeannes, chief executive of Goldcorp, the world’s largest gold miner by market capitalization.

Mr. Jeannes said in an interview that a falloff in supply will support the gold price, but make mining it even harder and lead to further consolidation in the industry…

“Whether it is this year or next year, I don’t think we will ever see the gold production reach these levels again,” he said. “There are just not that many new mines being found and developed.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If “peak gold” is truly taking place here, there’s a good chance investors are going to pay more attention to the shiny yellow metal going forward.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Sources:

Saefong, Myra P. “In 20 years, the world may run out of minable gold.” MarketWatch. 31 Mar. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/in-20-years-the-world-may-run-out-of-minable-gold-2015-03-30). 31 Mar. 2015.

Williams, Lawrence. “New gold discoveries declining at accelerating rate – IntierraRMG.” Mineweb. 25 Mar. 2013. (http://www.mineweb.com/archive/new-gold-discoveries-declining-at-accelerating-rate-intierrarmg/). 31 Mar. 2015.

MacDonald, Alistair. “Goldcorp CEO Jeannes Sees “Peak Gold” in Sector This Year or Next.” The Wall Street Journal. 8 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/goldcorp-ceo-jeannes-sees-peak-gold-in-sector-this-year-or-next-1410188689). 31 Mar. 2015.

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Marc Faber: ‘The President, For Whatever Reason, Might Not Finish His Term’

This year’s Barron’s Roundtable convened on January 12, 2015, at the Harvard Club of New York. And one member of the Roundtable, Swiss-born investment advisor and fund manager Marc Faber, brought up some interesting scenarios for the coming year. Dr. Faber told Roundtable participants:

Many surprises could occur in the next 12 months. The president, for whatever reason, might not finish his term. China’s president, Xi Jinping, doesn’t speak as much as Obama, but when he speaks, he makes sense. He is a powerful person. In the past 45 years, China has pursued a policy of nonintervention in other countries’ domestic affairs. But that might change because of its oil interests in the Sudan. China is the largest supplier of troops to the U.N. peacekeeping forces. Its troops are conveniently placed next to Sudan’s oil facilities. China also has a large interest in the Iraqi oilfields. If ISIS moves toward southern Iraq, which it currently can’t do, China will protect its interests. The Chinese are becoming more assertive in their geopolitical ambitions. They must ensure a supply of natural resources, such as oil, copper, and iron ore. In their view, the Americans have no interests in Southeast Asia and eventually will have to move out. It is unclear how this will be achieved, or when, but it probably won’t happen peacefully

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Thailand-based Faber, like fellow “crash prophets” Jim Rogers and Peter Schiff, recognizes that the West’s economic power is steadily being transferred to the East. He added in New York City:

Even if Asia doesn’t grow much this year, economic power is shifting to Asia. The Indian economy could grow by 5%-6% in 2015, although the Indians would say I am too pessimistic. Nonetheless, a 5% growth rate is enormous, compared to zero in Europe.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


Heineken Commercial “The Date” feat. Mohammed Rafi, Jaan Pehechaan Ho (1965)
YouTube Video

You can read the entire Roundtable discussion on the Barron’s website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Nouriel Roubini: ‘Mother Of All Asset Bubbles’ To Pop In 2016

One of the original “crash prophets” of the 2008 global economic crisis is now sounding the alarm over what he sees in 2016.

I first mentioned Nouriel Roubini, a former Treasury official under the Clinton administration, a professor of economics at NYU, and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, in my old blog Boom2Bust.com several years ago. Roubini correctly-predicted the financial crisis, but “Dr. Doom”- as the financial media likes to call him- had become more optimistic this year. On May 14, 2014, he “debated” fellow “prophet” Peter Schiff on CNBC’s Fast Money, saying:

We’re printing a lot of money but it’s not creating credit. It’s not creating inflation. And if we had not done this policy, this Great Recession would have become a Great Depression. So, inflation is going to stay low. Gold prices are going to fall. And I don’t believe that the dollar’s going to collapse. Actually, I believe the dollar’s going to become stronger in the next few years- just the opposite of what Peter thinks.

But these days, Dr. Roubini is starting to sound gloomy again. Last week, I happened to come across a Yahoo! Finance interview with Roubini from earlier this month. From an exchange with editor-in-chief Aaron Task:

TASK: Nouriel Roubini is often referred to as “Dr. Doom”- affectionately of course- but the NYU professor and chairman of Roubini Global Economics is not always downbeat. He prefers “Dr. Realist,” and in February 2013 Roubini told Yahoo! Finance and this reporter that, “The mother of all asset bubbles had begun, and would eventually be bigger than the 2003-2006 bubble.” Since that time the S&P 500 is up about 40 percent, so Nouriel, that was a great call if you were long, and bubbles are great if you’re long and you get out in time. Where do you see- what inning, if we use the baseball analogy, are we in in this bubble from your point of view?
ROUBINI: We’re in middle-later innings. Next year we’ll have economic growth. We’re still easy money. I think that this frothiness that we’ve seen in these financial markets is likely to continue- from equities to credit to housing. And in a couple of years, most likely, this asset inflation is going to become asset frothiness. And eventually, an asset and a credit bubble. And eventually, any booming bubble ends up a bust and a crash. I don’t expect that happening next year, but I would say that valuations in many markets- whether its government bonds or credit or real estate or some equity markets- are already stretched. They’re going to become more stretched as the real economy justifies a slow exit, and all this liquidity is going into more asset inflation. And so, two years down the line for them to shake out, but not before then.
TASK: A couple of years down the line, okay.
ROUBINI: Yeah. 2016 I would say.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Roubini: U.S. equities will be strong until 2016”
Yahoo! Finance Video

Dr. Roubini gave this advice to investors:

At this point, I would be neutral or underweight U.S. equities compared to other markets.

As for “best bets” in 2015, he told viewers:

Several I would say. I would say, dollar strength relative to the euro, relative to the yen, relative to the commodity currencies, relative to fragile emerging markets. And a bet on commodities further another leg down, certainly industrial metals like copper and others linked to China. Those will be two of the stories for 2015.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Jeremy Grantham’s Latest Investment Advice

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Jeremy Grantham, the co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO). To be fair, the British-born investment advisor has been taking a break from his popular quarterly investment letter that’s published on the GMO website. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mr. Grantham, he’s designated one of this blog’s “crash prophets” along with Marc Faber, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff due to his special talent for correctly-calling the direction of the financial markets. He so good that individual clients have included Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Grantham was the subject of a September 20 article in The Wall Street Journal in which Ian Salisbury asked him about investment-related topics, such as the depletion of natural resources on Earth. From the Q and A session:

Q: What are investors supposed to do?
A: The investment implications are, of course, own stock in the ground, own great resources, reserves of phosphorous, potash, oil, copper, tin, zinc—you name it. I’d be less enthusiastic about aluminum and iron ore just because there is so much. And I wouldn’t own coal, and I wouldn’t own tar sands. It’s hugely expensive to build coal utilities, and the plants they have to build for tar sands are massive, and before they get their money back I suspect that the price of solar and wind will have come down so much.

So I wouldn’t use that, but I think oil, the metals and particularly the fertilizers, I would own—and the most important of all is food. The pressures on food are worse than anything else, and therefore, what is the solution? Very good farming, which can be done. The emphasis from an investor’s point of view is on very good farmland. It’s had a big run. You can never afford to ignore price and value, but from time to time you can get good investments in farmland, and if you’re prepared to go abroad, you can do it today. I wouldn’t be too risky. I would stay with distinctly stable countries—Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, of course, and the U.S. But I would look around, in what I call the nooks and crannies. And forestry is the same. Forestry is not a bad bargain, a little overpriced maybe, but it’s in a world where everything is overpriced today, once again, courtesy of incredibly low interest rates that push people into investing. A wicked plot of the Federal Reserve.

Grantham also shared with Salisbury where he thought stocks were heading. Basically, not only does he think equities can go “a lot higher than this” with Fed backing, but they could even reach bubble territory.

It’s a really good, insightful interview, capped-off with a discussion about unbridled American optimism, which you can read in its entirety here on The Wall Street Journal website.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Salisbury, Ian. “Our Chat With Jeremy Grantham.” The Wall Street Journal. 20 Sep. 2013. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323665504579032934293143524.html). 24 Sep. 2013.

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 38

I’m leaving it to my hometown of Chicago to supply the material for today’s installment of “Signs Of The Time.”

Ameet Sachdev wrote on the Chicago Tribune website today:

The Chicago area led the nation in insurance claims related to thefts of copper and other metals, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

In a new report, the Chicago area had 963 metal theft claims from Jan. 1, 2009, through 2011. That’s 42 more claims than were generated in the New York and northern New Jersey region, which ranked No. 2.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

It was only a short time ago Americans would have equated this sort of thing with the Third World.

And now, it’s at my doorstep.

In the west suburbs Tuesday, Elmhurst College held a pandemic drill. But this was no ordinary exercise. The Tribune’s Patrick Rollens reported Wednesday:

Students volunteered to be turned into zombies as part of the Deicke Center for Nursing Education’s Zombie Flu Simulation exercise. The pilot program, developed by two nursing grad students, was designed to immerse students in a real, live, unpredictable pandemic situation. The zombie volunteers were given roles to play, complete with relevant details such as age, chronic ailments, drug allergies — and especially zombie symptoms. Moaning, stiff arms and confusion were encouraged.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Glad to hear the zombie fad is serving a useful purpose, rather than just supplying the Chiller TV channel with an ample amount of low-budget programming.


“Zombie Girl- Creepy Crawler- Music Video)”
(Warning- Violence)
YouTube Video

Sources:

Sachdev, Ameet. “Chicago area leads nation in copper thefts.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Mar. 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-chicago-area-leads-nation-in-copper-thefts-20120308,0,660711.story). 8 Mar. 2012.

Rollens, Patrick W. “Zombies prepare for their close-up at Elmhurst College.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Mar. 2012. (http://triblocal.com/elmhurst/galleries/2012/03/zombies-prepare-for-their-close-up-at-elmhurst-college/#9). 8 Mar. 2012.

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Jeremy Grantham Publishes ‘The Longest Quarterly Letter Ever’

On Survival And Prosperity’s “Crash Prophets” page, I list the latest investment activities/recommendations of four “crash prophets” who saw the 2008 economic crisis coming- Dr. Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff. I’ve already added entries under Faber, Rogers, and Schiff. And tonight, I’ll finally be providing material for Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO). As I’ve noted before, the British investor has a special talent for correctly-calling the direction of the markets. For example:

• In 1982, said the U.S. stock market was ripe for a “major rally.” That year was the beginning of the longest bull run ever.
• In 1989, called the top of the Japanese bubble economy
• In 1991, predicted the resurgence of U.S. large cap stocks
• In 2000, correctly called the rallies in U.S. small cap and value stocks
• In January 2000, warned of an impending crash in technology stocks, which took place two months later
• Saw the 2008 global financial crisis coming. In April 2007, said we are now seeing the first worldwide bubble in history covering all asset classes.

Grantham’s individual clients have included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and former U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry.

Grantham pens a quarterly investment letter on the GMO website. And he’s just released the latest installment, entitled “The Longest Quarterly Letter Ever.” The publication is divided into three parts:

• “Part I: Investment Advice from Your Uncle Polonius”
Grantham provided solid investment advice, insight into being an investment manager, and pointed out the high level of optimism Americans have
• “Part II: Your Grandchildren Have No Value (And Other Deficiencies of Capitalism)”
Discussed capitalism, particularly its shortfalls
• “Part III: Investment Observations for the New Year”
Reviewed 2011, and provided investment recommendations for 2012 and beyond. It’s this part of the newsletter I’ll be focusing on in the rest of the post.

The co-founder of GMO thinks global equities are closer to being good value than U.S. stocks:

The majority of global equities are within spitting distance (a technical term) of fair value. Only the S&P 500 is materially overpriced…

Long-term “developed market” government bonds are unattractive:

So in asset allocation there is one great opportunity – avoiding duration in fixed income – and one pretty good opportunity – down weighting most of the U.S. market.

Grantham sees inflation ahead of us, and offers suggestions (stocks, commodities, possibly gold) for hedging against it:

The 800-pound gorilla (the one that prefers bond holders to bamboo) is not in the room yet, but you can hear him thumping his chest up in the hills. He will come eventually, and before he does, you should remember that stocks are underrated inflation hedges… Equities have been tested over and over again in different places and in different decades and they have always been found to be very effective hedges. Serious resources – oil and copper in the ground and forestry and farmland – will almost certainly also be good and very probably much better than broad stocks in the short run. Gold may be good too. Who knows? But for stocks to work dependably as inflation hedges one has to have a several-year time horizon

He suspects prices of agricultural commodities could come down in the short-term:

Given less bad weather I argued, prices could fall a lot. Since last spring, there has been some terrible weather in Thailand (the world’s largest exporter of rice), in the Southern U.S., and in parts of Argentina. But, on average, the weather has indeed been less bad than the previous year and world grain output is likely to be up quite a lot. As a consequence, prices, which had weakened an average 25% plus since the early summer peak (before the recent rally), will likely come down some more. I am, though, more convinced than ever that the biggest of several substantial problems we face is that of feeding the 9 or 10 billion people that are likely to exist one day, with finite land, finite soil, and, perhaps above all, finite mined fertilizer.

Grantham thinks investment opportunities might still be found in farmland:

While some farmland in the U.S. has appreciated rapidly and perhaps by too much, farmland is an extremely varied and complicated market both in the U.S. and globally, and one that is inefficiently priced. With care and experience, reasonable investments can be made, although a sell-off would of course make for even more attractive opportunities.

He sees a long-term opportunity in natural gas:

Everyone who has a brain should be thinking of how to make money on this in the longer term.

And metals producers show promise in the long run:

Metals producers were down almost a third from their high until the recent rapid rally. They are now (February 9) down about 20% to 25%. Some may still be vulnerable. Gold producers, though, look cheaper than the metal itself after badly underperforming the metal last year, reaching one of their weaker ratios for a while. Still, my old recommendation from April holds: these are all great long-term investments that are dangerous short term. There are two investment approaches that work. My choice is to average in. (It is what I personally have been doing.) An alternative is to know the markets short term better than the market does, which is tough; although probably a few experts can do it. The third approach, http://survivalandprosperity.com/wp-admin/themes.phpwhich I definitely don’t recommend, is to just follow the herd up and down (although of course some small numbers do this well, too).

The investment strategist summarized these recommendations for readers:

Summary of Recommendations (with apologies for the lack of changes)
• Heavily underweight U.S equities, but not the high quality quartile, which is almost fair price. Non-quality equities, in contrast, have a negative imputed 7-year return after their handsome rally in the last 3 months through to mid-February.
• Slightly overweight other global equities, which are almost fair price, down from a little cheap at year end.
• In total, be about neutral in global equities. Yes, there is more than our normal fair share of potential negatives lurking around, but on our data: a) most of the negatives are reflected in stock prices; and b) all fixed income duration is dangerously overpriced. This last situation is, of course, engineered by the Fed, which hopes to drive us all into taking more risk, notably by buying more equities. I hate to oblige, but at current equity prices it just makes sense to do what they want. As mentioned earlier, equities are also good long-term hedges against inflation.
• Underweight as much as you dare long-term bonds, especially higher-grade sovereign bonds.
• In the long term, resources in the ground, forestry, and agricultural land are attractive, but come with the usual caveats of the risk of short-term over pricing, so average in.

Great stuff as usual from Mr. Grantham and GMO. You can read the entire investment letter on the GMO website here (.pdf format).

(Editor’s notes: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein; info added to “Crash Prophets” page)

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Survival And Prosperity
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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